Everyone’s favorite WWOOFer is back!

 

IMG_20160523_122534854_HDRSince the last time I spent some much needed time at Light Footsteps (read about it here), I’ve finally realized that growing things, and teaching communities how to grow things, is actually really important to me. Because of that, I’ve recently started a journey to becoming an urban farmer. Over the past week, however, I’ve taken a break from stressing over the approaching school year to try out a different season at Light Footsteps. You’ll have to forgive me, because the August humidity has all my thoughts jumbled, so I’ll keep the words short and share some photos of this week with you.

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Most of my mornings were spent spreading wood chips on the paths in the Keyhole Garden

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I finally got to meet Pony. I would hate to make him insecure about his size, but in my mind he’s a horse.

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I spent the cooler afternoons picking herbs (peppermint, thyme, oregano, sage, and lemon balm pictured here)

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or beans!

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luckily there were rainy days

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…and there were a lot of sunny days to share with our pollinator friends.

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The bees really love the Rose of Sharon.

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On a particularly sunny day we went to Red Beet Row to see their permaculture farm.

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There was a lot of child-wrangling during the stay. Pictured is another WWOOFers son, Sebastian.

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Cora has grown up so much since I last saw her! (Photo taken at Chardon’s farmers’ market)

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I finished my week off helping Christine share her love of herbalism at a workshop for kids and adults about medicinal plants.

Like always, you can learn more about WWOOF here. Hope to be back soon, but until then, HAPPY GROWING!

Make Your Own Chive Blossom Vinegar

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Starting in late May and lasting through June, the garden is speckled with the vibrantly purple blossoms of chives.

Chives are a welcome addition to salads, vegetables, and eggs by adding their mild onion flavor.

Their blossoms are edible as well and can also be added to salads by pulling them apart into smaller bits.


Another simple way to use the flowers is to make a chive blossom vinegar.

Start by snipping the blossoms.  You’ll need a cup or two to fill a pint jar 3/4 full with the blossoms.

After collecting the blossoms, it’s a good idea to soak them for an hour or so in water.  This way any resident bugs can evacuate . We didn’t find any bugs in our freshly-opened blossoms, but if you do find them, consider changing the water another time to make sure they’re all out.

Towel dry the blossoms.

Lightly pack a sterilized pint jar with the blossoms and cover with vinegar.  I wanted the color of this vinegar to be lovely so I used white vinegar,  but generally I make my herb-infused vinegars with apple cider vinegar as if offers numerous health benefits on its own.

Place a piece of wax paper underneath the lid so that the vinegar doesn’t corrode the metal top.


For best flavor, infuse the chives into vinegar for 2-4 weeks before straining them out. After, keep the chive vinegar in a cool, dark location.

24 Hours Later

 

one week later

 

To recap, you’ll need:

  • 1-2 cups chive blossoms, soaked to remove any bugs and then towel dried
  • a sterilized pint jar
  • wax paper
  • enough white or apple cider vinegar to cover the blossoms

And then:

Add the chive blossoms to the pint jar and cover with the vinegar ensuring that all of the blossoms are completely submerged.  Place wax paper over the opening and screw on the lid. Wait 2 -4 weeks before straining out the chives. Store the vinegar in a cool, dark location.

This vinegar can be used wherever you might use vinegar, but I plan to use it mostly for salad dressings.

A simple Chive Blossom Vinaigrette could be made like this:

(for one cup)

  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chive vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Dried herbs and snips of fresh chives (optional)

Place all ingredients into an empty jar, make sure the lid is on, and shake away!

 

 

 

Community Herbal Intensive in Northeast Ohio at the Trillium Center

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I have been following the exciting developments at The Trillium Center for some time now so when fellow herbalist Leah Wolfe contacted me and asked if I’d share information about the upcoming Community Herbal Intensive, I quickly said, “Yes!”.  This is sure to be an awesome opportunity for all plant enthusiasts to further their study in a hands-on, community-oriented way.

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The Trillium Center logo

Here’s a little more from Leah:

The Community Herbal Intensive is an educational program for herbalists and other plant lovers who want to make a connection between herbal medicine and community health. The monthly workshops will take participants out into the field to work with plants or into the streets to develop community projects. This program is for anyone interested in furthering their studies of herbal medicine in a hands-on environment while developing skills for creating community projects. The goal of the program is to give participants skills, ideas, and strategies to start community projects that emphasize holistic health, folk medicine, education, gardening, and foraging. They will be introduced to the concepts of public health and liberation theory so herbs, education, and community health can be interwoven into well-planned projects. Get the application to learn more.

You can find the application by visiting this link on The Trillium Center’s website: Why CHI? With link to Application

Autumn Wellness

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Wandering around the yard it’s really starting to look like Autumn. Our big old oak has splotches of orange leaves, the sunflowers are falling over, and animals are scurrying about getting ready for winter.

IMG_1821IMG_0012Autumn is a beloved season by many — there are pumpkin flavored treats, spooky holidays, and the beautiful colors of late blooming wildflowers along with the splendor of changing trees. It is a time to treasure. However, the changing weather can also lead to increased susceptibility to colds, and some blue moods as the days get shorter and cold weather starts creeping in.

IMG_1538IMG_1544This season’s herbal wellness box is designed to help support your enjoyment of autumn’s beauty while also facilitating the inevitable transition to darker and colder days.

A spiced sugar scrub will delight your senses and leave you reveling in the joy of autumn while a hand cleansing gel with traditional anti-germ oils will help buffer you from seasonal illness.

sugar scrubhandgelWe continue the celebration of autumn’s harvest with an apple cider infused soap, inspired by our prolific apple tree. There’s also a relaxing tea designed with my love of cozy fall nights in mind. It’s relaxing, but won’t totally put you to sleep either so it’s great for a mid-day break, too.

applesYou’ll also learn about the importance of Bitters for digestive health as well as the role of adaptogenic herbs like holy basil in managing stress that can occur during seasonal transitions. Each of my wellness boxes comes with an informational letter teaching you about each of the products and how to use them appropriately.

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The Autumn Share of my Seasonal Wellness boxes is available for you to enjoy for purchase through my Etsy shop. I’m also happy to arrange for pick-up of local orders!

AutumnWellnessBoxI think you’ll enjoy celebrating the transition to this wonderful time of year with an Autumn Wellness Box. We thank you for your support, too!!

{We also have a class coming up this Thursday (10/8/15) on the farm. We’ll go for a plant walk around the yard and then discuss some recipes that you can make to support your transition to Autumn. Find out more here.}

Easy Poultice for Insect Stings – What’s your favorite way?

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I taught a class on herbal first-aid recently and we went over a variety of home remedies for simple concerns that arise with more time outside when the weather is nice — bites, stings, rashes, cuts, etc.

IMG_0795One of the topics was bee/wasp/hornet stings. Ouch!  It was interesting to hear all of the ways that people manage this at home.

My favorite is very simple and we’ve used it three times in the past year!

Before applying anything, try to remove the stinger.  Use tweezers or even scrape a credit card along the skin to dislodge it.  This will go a long way in preventing the area from continuing to be painful and irritated.

Then, make a thick paste with equal parts baking soda and clay to neutralize the area and remove toxins that cause the sting.  Seriously, that’s it!

Get a tablespoon or so of both baking soda and clay (I use kaolin), add enough water to form a paste, and apply this to the bite.  Allow to dry and just let it sit there for as long as necessary. You can reapply every 30 minutes or so to keep soothing the area.  Also, I often add a drop or two of tea tree or lavender essential oil to the paste to further help relieve the sting and calm the area.

I have a few packets of the mix leftover if you’re looking to have some on hand!

IMG_2717You can also buy your own baking soda and kaolin clay.  I recommend using Mountain Rose Herbs, especially because they have aluminum-free baking soda!

And, another trick for stings if you’re away from home – grab a leaf of the common weed Plantain (Plantago major), crush it up in your hands (or even chew it!) to release the juices and stick this wad of goopy plant material right on your sting.  It will help to relieve the sting quickly and also helps to draw out toxins.  In fact, it’s a good plant to know for any bug bites you get while outdoors (you should see me while camping, I have tend to have little wads of plantain all over!).

IMG_0622What’s your favorite way to deal with stings naturally?

Come to the next class on the farm (October 8, 2015) where we’ll be discussing herbal remedies to help with the transition to Fall. This class is sponsored by the Holistic Moms Network and it is helpful if you register.

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Homemade Lavender Mustard

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Around here, summer is still in full swing.  It’s been hot, the garden is starting to produce a lot, and we’ve been enjoying our very full days around the farm.

Recently, we had family visiting for a week and I had a request for mustard.

Uh-oh!  I had the mustard seeds sitting right there ready to make a fresh batch, but this summer grilling essential still had not been made.

I decided it was time, and it’s too bad it took me so long because it’s really very easy.  The hardest part is that you must soak the mustard seeds for two days so in this respect it does require a little advanced planning.

I decided to get a little adventurous and try this lavender mustard recipe by Rosalee de la Foret.

Yum! I’m glad I did.

Here are all the ingredients, most of which I gathered from Mountain Rose Herbs

  • 1/4 cup brown mustard seeds (or you could use only yellow mustard seeds as we did for a milder flavor)
  • 1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 tablespoon lavender flowers (omit or choose a different herb if you desire)
  • 1 teaspoon salt

First, the mustard seeds, apple cider vinegar, and water are mixed in a bowl.  Cover the bowl and let the mixture sit for two days.

After the seeds have softened for two days, place the seed and liquid mixture in a food processor along with the remaining ingredients.

Blend together until you have a mustard paste. Easy!

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This recipe makes about a pint and will keep in the fridge for up to 6 months.

To see Rosalee’s original recipe on Learning Herbs click here.

To purchase ingredients from Mountain Rose Herbs click here.

Shared on Wildcrafting Wednesday.

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FTC DISCLOSURE: I may receive monetary or other compensation for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services within this article. However, it is my promise to you that I am sharing my honest opinion and that I only recommend products or services that I have personally used or recommend and are in alignment with Light Footsteps ideals.

Common Sense Disclaimer: All information on this blog is for educational purposes only.  It has not been evaluated by the FDA and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition or ailment.  Speak with your healthcare provider if you have any health concerns and before making changes to your lifestyle, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, or have a preexisting health condition.  

Summer Wellness

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The days are long and full.

It seems I am filling every moment with work around the farm, food preparation, and in fun family outings. Recently we went camping at the Pollination Festival in Kentucky while stopping for a day in Columbus where we visited the Botanical Garden.

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We also have been very busy around the farm, and I hope to do an update on our farm happenings soon (goats, gardens, solar panels, oh my!)!  However, I have trouble finding time to sit down on the computer and blog very much when there’s so much to do outdoors this time of year.

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One of the things that I’ve been creating is this summer’s share of my Community Supported Herbalism project.  I am really happy with the way the Summer Wellness Box turned out and I think it’s a great reminder that we must still take time to slow down and care for ourselves even during this busy summer season.

I’ve been having a hard time with that myself this summer, but this box is helping me remember how important it is to prioritize finding little ways to pamper myself each day.

And so that’s what this box is about…taking time to breathe with the pace of the natural world and delight in the gifts that nature offers us in abundance.  When you open this box, I’d like you to imagine wandering around my garden with me, enjoying the scents, colors, and beauty that we find while carefully harvesting plant allies to help support our health and beauty.

To that effect, there are a number of botanically-based gifts to help you slow down and care for yourself this summer.

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You’ll find an herb-infused salve to find relief from pesky bug bites and other summer skin irritations, a fresh skin serum with rich botanical oils to nourish your sun-kissed skin, and a honey + myrrh face soap to gently scrub away impurities while boosting your skin with anti-oxidants.

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You’ll also find a cooling cucumber rose spritzer that is best to keep in the fridge.  When you’re feeling overwhelmed with summer’s heat, take it out and spritz all over for a refreshing treat.

There’s also a delicious, herbal (caffeine free) tea blend that is full of vitamins and minerals.  It’s an awesome alternative to over-indulging on sodas or alcohol in the summer.  We’ve been drinking it iced almost daily, and have even made it into kid-approved ice pops.

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Finally, I have included some freshly harvested red clover.  You’ll learn more about using red clover when you get your box, but it’s an excellent source of easily-digestible nutrients as well as a traditional remedy for purifying the blood and supporting the female system, especially if one is looking to improve their fertility or ease the transition through menopause.

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You can learn more about the Summer Wellness Box and order yours by clicking here.  As a blog reader, you can even get 15% off using code BLOGFRIEND through August 15, 2015.  I hope you enjoy!

You can also learn where to find me in person this summer and get one that way.

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Thanks for supporting our small farm and dreams by purchasing a summer wellness box.

Make your own sunscreen at home! ~ Sun Stick Recipe ~

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Now that things are heating up outside, it’s time to break out the sunscreen!

But not so fast…have you seen some of the warnings and fact sheets about conventional sunscreen?

Ugh. It’s not fun news that many of the most common brands contain chemicals that are endocrine disruptors, common allergens, and can be detrimental to the environment.

What’s more confusing is that despite our increased use of sunscreens, skin cancer is on the rise and many Americans have Vitamin D levels that are way too low (vitamin D is critical for healthy bones and a strong immune system).

We certainly still need to protect ourselves from the sun, but maybe we need to rethink the way that we’re finding our protection.

So how do we do this while still staying safe from excessive and dangerous exposure to UVA and UVB sun rays?

Here are some of the top tips:

  • Wear big hats, shirts, and pants to protect your skin from the sun.
  • Go outside in the early morning or late afternoon rather than at mid-day when the sun is most intense.
  • Hang out in shaded areas, or bring shade in the form of umbrellas.
  • Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from harmful UV radiation.
  • Research sunscreen options and find the best, safest choice for your family when you must be out in direct sunlight!

Continue reading

Herbal Baby Powder

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Recently I made a fresh batch of herbal baby powder as part of a friend’s baby shower gift.

IMG_1360Other than saving money and the fun that comes with homemade projects, why might you want to make your own baby powder?

Unfortunately, many conventional powders contain talc which can be very irritating to our mucous membranes, especially if inhaled.

Here’s what Dr. Weil has to say about talc in baby powder:

Talc is a mineral composed of hydrated magnesium silicate. The danger is that babies can easily inhale tiny particles of it that are light enough to be carried in the air. When inhaled, talc can dry an infant’s mucous membranes, adversely affect the baby’s breathing, and cause serious lung damage. Studies have shown that talc can lead to shortness of breath and wheezing in babies and can also lead to obstruction of the airways. Some babies have developed pneumonia and some have died as a result of respiratory failure from inhaling the powder. — Dr. Weil, found here.

Luckily, it’s easy to make homemade baby powder with ingredients that are more baby friendly.  This recipe contains arrowroot powder and kaolin clay.  Arrowroot powder is a lightweight powder made from the root of the arrowroot plant and helps to absorb moisture.  Kaolin clay is one of the mildest clays and wonderful for people with sensitive skin.  It is naturally absorbent and helps to stimulate circulation to this skin while gently cleansing.  It does not draw oil from the skin so will not rob the skin of its own healing properties.

Chamomile and calendula powders are also included because they are gentle herbs that have traditionally been used to help soothe sensitive or irritated skin. Continue reading

Spring is on the Way {So is the New Herbal Wellness Basket!}

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You know we’re getting closer to Spring in Ohio when it’s 45 degrees outside and I’m pulling out the lawn chair to soak up the sun.

Yes, there may still be snow on the ground, but these spring rays are just begging for someone to soak them up.  I will. IMG_0811

In the past week, the bird song has increased steadily each morning.  In addition to the usual chorus of black capped chickadees and cardinals, I’ve even begun hearing the red-winged blackbirds outside.  This is surely a sign that Winter’s fingers are unfurling their grasp around Northeast Ohio.

With the warming days we’ve been out playing in the yard, and joyfully been exploring the process of tapping our maple trees.  We do, after all, live in the heart of Ohio’s maple syrup kingdom.

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